Nearly three years ago, it was already clear that music apps were going to become a major avenue for all things music, especially for letting artists distribute stuff directly to fans. Some of us even think they could be a major source of music revenue in and of themselves. At the very least, they're demonstrably promotional of downloads, concert tickets, and more.
So far, the inaugural Music App Machine output from Waka Flocka Flame, of whom I had never heard, has racked up some promising stats in the app stores so farm as one of the top 30 free apps (we assume in iTunes, although it's not there now), with over 10,000 downloads in the first two weeks.
Conduit, the company powering the Music App Machine apps for Warner, claims to be "Israel's first billion-dollar internet company" due in part to its success in powering "community toolbars" and "web bars." Both of those sound like bad things -- the sort of annoying tools that publishers bundle with computer freeware. But when it comes to making the app the distribution point for artists, we think it's making a lot of sense.
"Now, the app itself becomes the distribution channel through which artists release their music and interact with their fans," writes Conduit in the announcement. "No longer is the music app an adjunct, it is the central connection point, developed in recognition of the new consumer reality in which the app interface is the portal through which music is discovered and consumed."
"This is a special app for all of my fans to stay connected with me & all of BSM (Brick Squad Monopoly) 24/7...I need all my SQUUAADD to download this app," added Waka Flocka Flame, apparently via Twitter.
Providing a glimpse of this new Music App Machine platform, here are the elements included in the iOS and Android app of one Waka Flocka Flame:
- Soundboard: You can make him say catchphrases like "<unintelligible> baby make that ass clap, bow" or "man, I don't really care" or "rooster in my rari, arh."
- Instagram: Check out a stream of ridiculous pronouncements and photographs, or maybe they're awesome. I can't tell.
- Music: Ostensibly, you should be able to listen to "I Don't Really Care (feat. Trey Songz)" and "ROP" here. Unfortunately, both tracks produce an error that says "error loadi...audio track." However, the part about buying the tracks works fine.
- News: Here, the curious fan can find blurbs from Waka's blog. Tap them and they lead to his-kind-of-hard-to-read-on-the-iPhone website.
- Facebook: This section imports Mr. Flame's Facebook musings and photos into the app, so you can view them there without switching out of the app (including comments).
- Twitter: What you would expect. You have used Twitter before, right?
- Events: "There are currently no events to display" -- a sad fact for Waka fans that we verified with visits to Ticketmaster and MySpace, but this is a good idea in theory, and in practice if the guy starts touring again.
- LiveAlbum: This is neat -- after you sign in with Facebook Connect, you can post your own photos into the app and view the photos of other fans. So far, there are 41 pictures in there -- mostly of fans, but plenty of Waka too.
- Newsletter: Yes, Waka Flocka Flame has an email newsletter, just like everyone else; you can subscribe within the app.
Warner Bros. Records marketing vice president Ayal Kleinman said the Music App Machine "can be scaled across our roster of artists," and it probably will. This approach of basing apps around artists as a music distribution hub has potential for other labels, too.
"WBR's transformative approach to new media marks a change in the industry, and will lead to the creation of artist-centric mobile communities that are linked to the musician's app," said Conduit vice president of mobile strategy Ori Lavie. "This engagement goes beyond music and social feeds, and includes viral games and native mobile device features. And this is just the beginning."
We agree... but what about true artist radio?